Christmas Frustrations

Christmas Frustrations: 5 Tips to keep your cool with the kids over the holidays

Christmas, as we all know, is rapidly approaching. It's time to spend precious time with loved ones. The last thing you want to be concerned about over the holidays is losing your cool with the kids, letting your frustrations get in the way and making this Christmas one you'll never forget - and not in a good way.

It's common to feel annoyed or on edge over the holidays. After all, as parents, we all feel enormous responsibility to make the time as memorable as possible for our children. This can put us at the whim of our frustrations, rendering all of our stress management and relaxation tactics useless. That is why I wrote today's blog. To serve as a reminder of the benefits of staying calm and 5 Tips to Keep your Cool With the Kids.

How does remaining calm benefit the kids?

Staying calm demonstrates to the child that you may be angry yet you still remain within your "window of tolerance" (a space where you can manage your emotions). It teaches the kids to safely navigate intense emotions. When we aren't calm as parents, we aren't reasonable, and we might frequently join them in what feels like a game of tennis, going backwards and forwards and refusing to let them win, resulting in even more rage and emotional dysregulation.

Getting angry also enables for something known as transference to occur. Have you ever stepped into a room after two individuals had a fight and 'felt the vibe'? Children are like sponges, soaking up our emotions. If we are calm, they are likely to be calmer, if we are anxious they show signs of anxiety, etc.

How does remaining calm benefit you as a parent?

Staying calm permits us to remain in our parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to access the logical half of our brain. When we are upset, we are in a state of fight, flight, or freeze and are unable to think logically. It enables us to stop playing the game, be empathic, and figure out how to address the problem much faster.

Remaining cool during memorable times such as Christmas will set yourself up for better, calmer behaviour from your children in the future - especially around the same time the year after. This is because your children will remember the incident and correlate your calm response with a win-win situation, motivating them to behave better.

Here are 5 of my top tips to remain calm during the holidays:

Tip 1 - Take time away:

Take time away

Give yourself 5 minutes. Go and make a cup of tea, glass of water. I love a quick visualisation/ meditation whilst doing this. Create a happy calm, special place you go to in your mind. Practice going there when you are not stressed initially and then take yourself there when you are stressed. (I have a great video for this in my facebook group )

Tip 2 - Check your breathing:

Check your breathing

Are you breathing from your chest or your tummy. Put one hand on each and take some deep breaths from your tummy. I love 20 conscious connected breaths which means you are taking belly breaths without a break between the in and out breath. This shifts us into our rest and recovery system and switches off the stress responses.

Tip 3 - Find some running water:

Running water

Do not underestimate the power of running water. Running hands under some water for a few minutes helps to calm the nervous system.

Tip 4 - Stop the cycle:

stop cycle

If your child is dysregulated (not in control of their emotions often looks blank easy to spot in their eyes) stop trying to rationalise and engage in whatever is causing their distress. They are not able to access logical thinking so you will be going around in circles or escalating arguments.

Tip 5 - Role model:

Copy of role model

Once you are calm you can help them find techniques to calm and you have role modelled how to do this effectively.


Need further help managing stress and family life? Check out our individual therapy and coaching page...

Individual Therapy and Coaching


Alternatively, check out the NHS parental mental health resources...

Parental Wellbeing (

Re-evaluating Your Relationship In Lockdown

At a time when there aren’t many outlets for fulfilment and development, it can be easy to project that lack of fulfilment onto a relationship. Particularly for co-habiting married couples, relationships have consistently been at the forefront of our attention for the last year. For some couples, this will have been the absolute highlight of the lockdown period. For others who are used to operating differently and who really value independence and solitude, it could present more problems than it fixes. The minimalist structure of our lives for the last twelve months or so has meant we’ve put the most pressing areas of our lives under a microscope and started examining our values, priorities and goals.

When it comes to assessing the condition of your marriage, the backdrop of a global pandemic and a huge lifestyle upheaval does not present the most ordinary or accurate of circumstances. If you’re working from home, sharing a multi-functional work and living space 24/7 with no boundaries or separation can be testing. Unless there are considerable concerns such as infidelity, violence, or abuse of any kind, it is possible that the intensification of your relationships compared to other facets of life may sway your feelings and perceptions.

In order to discern whether it is time to end a relationship, you need to do some serious introspection and self-reflection, and ask yourself some potentially difficult questions like “do I still have genuine feelings for my partner?” “How do I envision my future with them?” “Is my romantic/sexual attention being led elsewhere?”. In addition, communication is key. Talk with your spouse about your concerns – be specific and direct rather than vague and unclear. Knowing what exactly your problems are is the fundamental prerequisite to finding solutions.

Having an ambiguous sense of something being “off” but not quite being sure of what it is can be reflective of the current climate and personal stagnation rather than a problem inherent to the relationship. The way this manifests in the relationship, whether it’s as distance, increased irritability, arguments, etc., could be symptomatic of a “blip” rather than an irreconcilable difference.

Signs that you are definitely ready to end a relationship could include:

  • You do not communicate with your partner – you don’t take time to listen to each other or respectfully voice your concerns, and often resort to shouting matches or avoid talking altogether
  • You are no longer friends with your spouse – you lack a baseline level of connection, trust, intimacy with them. You find that you don’t have fun together or enjoy just hanging out with them
  • You already act like you’re single – you don’t make space to consult or compromise with your partner when it comes to making decisions. A marriage is a working partnership which involves shared responsibility and communication, so if you find yourself navigating life individually without much regard for your spouse it could be a sign that the relationship has come to an end
  • Therapy isn’t working – you’ve tried to get some help with a professional to help mediate communication and explore problems, but if that isn’t enough to repair the relationship or restore lost connection, intimacy or romantic feelings then it might be another indicator that it is time to call it quits
  • You can imagine yourself in another relationship – if you can picture yourself in a new relationship with somebody else and feel unaffected or even excited, that is very telling about the status of your relationship. It could be a sign that you are ready to seek emotional intimacy and romance elsewhere
  • You imagine your future without your partner in it. This can also be a sign that you may be better off on your own.
  • You both want different things out of life – one of the biggest indicators could be the practical things. Are you still a good match? Are you on similar paths? Have you grown together or grown apart? If one of you wants to move away for new adventures while the other wants to stay put, or if one of you wants children while the other definitely doesn’t, that can be quite difficult to reconcile

If you have children and/or own property together, there are of course legal and financial implications to consider. But those factors aside, your happiness, well-being, personal development and future trajectory all call into question the health of your relationship. If you know that staying in your current relationship is having detrimental effects on any of those things and causing you to be actively unhappy, you can’t picture a future in which you’re content, and the thought of ending the relationship brings you a sense of relief, that is a very strong indicator that it’s time to end the relationship.

If you do think there is even a possibility it could just be a blip, give it time and give it energy. Nurture your relationship. Identify any particular problems you might be having and communicate with your partner respectfully to find solutions. If after a certain time period, things haven’t improved or your feelings haven’t changed – re-evaluate.

When bringing up any issues with your partner, broach the subject sensitively and frame it constructively. Use positive language, assure them that you love them and care for them, and that you want to make things even better. Take responsibility for your own actions; don’t attack or blame your spouse for any problems you might be having or ways you’ve been feeling. If something they have done in particular has caused you unhappiness or concern, explain your position and ask how they feel about or perceive the situation. Be open and willing to hear their point of view in order to identify and resolve any miscommunications. Reinforce the idea that this is a partnership. Use open body language and show physical affection (if that is normal for you) to create a positive, relaxed atmosphere.

It’s possible that as things increasingly return to ‘normal’, things will naturally resolve themselves. As distractions, leisure activities and social lives are reintroduced, tensions may lessen as our energies are allowed to flow elsewhere. The pressurised environment of living in the midst of Covid-19 is not representative of ‘real life’ or of the dawning future. Look inwards, connect with yourself as well as communicating with your partner. At the end of the day, only you can make the call so take some time to reflect and evaluate, all the while thinking about your happiness, your safety and your future.

No More Week | Identifying Emotional Abuse

It’s No More Week this week (March 7th-13th) and this Monday also happens to be International Women’s Day! It’s the perfect time to raise awareness for domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Sometimes, individuals don’t realise that they’re in an abusive relationship due to the insidious nature of emotional abuse. It can be very gradual and incremental, seemingly normal or not a big deal at first.

But these ‘isolated incidents’ are often crucial steps in abusers’ efforts to systematically lay the groundwork for future patterns of abusive behaviour. The ultimate goal is for an abuser to subtly gain control over the victim – controlling where they can go, what they can do, who they can see or speak to, etc.

However, it’s also important to recognise that not every case of emotionally abusive behaviour is accompanied by an overarching plan to gain control, and can occur simply because there is not enough awareness about what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. If somebody has grown up in an emotionally abusive environment, they may repeat those same behaviours thinking it is normal – for example, giving the silent treatment when they are angry rather than talking openly about feelings. It may not be intentional or part of a grand plan, but it is still emotional abuse and the effects are still very real.

It can be incredibly difficult to separate the systematic abuse from the context of the relationship, which means sometimes people can rationalise or excuse what is happening to them for various reasons that make sense to them. It may take a while after a relationship ends for somebody to recognise patterns of emotional abuse that existed in the relationship. Love and dependency can cloud judgement, making it difficult to see something that you might easily spot in somebody else’s relationship.

Emotional abuse can be extremely detrimental to somebody’s self-esteem, sense of self-worth and their emotional well-being. What we can do to try and prevent emotional abuse from happening is talk openly and loudly about the lesser known signs of emotional abuse so that is becomes clearer to identify.

Here are a couple of examples of emotionally abusive behaviour:

– Gaslighting: This is when the abuser convinces the victim to doubt things that they know to be true, leading them to question their own memory or sanity.

– Invalidating: This is when an abuser refuses to acknowledge or consider the victim’s thoughts or feelings, dismissing them entirely and making them feel small or unheard.

– Silent Treatment: Where an abuser refuses to talk openly about their feelings and instead ignores the victim, creating an atmosphere that places the victim in ‘the wrong’ and the abuser in ‘the right’.

– Passive Aggression: Where an abuser indirectly communicates their negative feelings, instead of talking openly and healthily about them.

– Derogatory Nicknames: Using belittling or disrespectful nicknames when addressing the victim in a non-playful, intentionally hurtful way (although they may claim to be joking – the intention is still there).

– Boundary Violation: Frequently overstepping the victim’s personal boundaries, be it emotional, physical or sexual.

– Sexual Coercion: Disregarding the victim’s sexual boundaries and convincing them to engage in sexual activity when they don’t want to and have said no or implied they are not okay with it.

If you have experienced any kind of emotional abuse and are in need of support, you can always book in a discovery call with me here and we can discuss how we could work together to help you process what has happened and begin to move forward.

You can also visit the No More website for more information about this year’s campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence and how you can get involved.

Take care everybody,